This guide is intended for use by a staff person or broadcaster at a radio station with limited resources or revenue and that broadcasts a weekly or bi-weekly radio program directed towards farmers and the rural people in its listening area. It assumes that the person who prepares the funding proposal works on the radio station’s farm, health, or other programs aimed at improving the lives of rural people—and is not familiar with preparing a funding proposal for a donor.
The donor might be:
- a national foundation or trust fund,
- a “local initiatives fund” administered by an embassy or high commission,
- a private sector company or donor,
- an international fund administered by that fund’s national office, or
- a UN agency located in the country.
The guide also assumes that the person preparing a funding proposal has, or can find, a contact name, phone number, or email address for the potential donor.
How can a funding proposal help me serve my listeners?
If successful, it could:
- Secure revenue to ensure that listeners receive more regular, relevant, timely, or accurate information, for example in the face of a new problem, an important issue, or a crisis.
- Secure financial resources to assess whether a station’s broadcasts are useful to listeners, identify listeners’ ideas for future programs, or pilot a new program feature that listeners want.
- Secure funding to create more opportunities for rural people to express their experiences, needs, ideas, and concerns on air—to enhance on-air dialogue among rural people.
- Secure funding to create new programming, for example, programming that specifically targets youth or women, or programming on national/local cultural issues.
How can a funding proposal help me produce better programs?
If successful, it could:
- Secure funding to ensure the station has reliable and up-to-date technical equipment.
- Support reporters to travel to the field to carry out interviews with rural people and experts, get feedback from listeners, and enable the station to provide listeners with faster responses to questions from rural people (their peers) and experts.
- Secure resources for an innovative program, support the creation of new feature programs for broadcaster use, or build broadcasters’ capacity to provide better information to listeners.
- Enable radio broadcasters to strengthen their professional skills or their ability to cover topics that are important to their listening audience in more effective and interesting ways.
How do I get started?
- Respond to a call for proposals or a solicitation.
- Arrange a meeting with a donor to assess their interest.
- Understand what is required by the donor.
- Decide what to “pitch” to the donor.
- Show that the station and its staff have the knowledge and capacity to do what you propose to do.
- Make a compelling case for investment.
- Include information on other aspects of the station’s sustainability.
1. Respond to a call for proposals or a solicitation.
- Note that a call for proposals or a solicitation may also be known as a Request for Proposals (RFP) or a call for an Expression of Interest (EOI). These are notices from donors that they have created an opportunity for groups to apply for funds, whether as a grant or a work contract. The circulation of these notices may not follow a pattern, and sometimes notices are not well-circulated. Put some effort into identifying donors and let each one know that you want to be included in their system of sending out notices to potential grantees.
- Make sure the call is “open” for your radio station to apply and that it provides sufficiently-detailed guidelines on what you need to show about work that your station has implemented and work that your station is proposing.
- Follow the donor’s guidelines closely and make sure you do or provide everything requested in the guidelines. In other words, make sure that you fully meet all the requirements, follow all the directions, and adhere to all the guidelines and suggestions.
- Provide documentation on your station's track record and accomplishments. Show your station’s experience as well as your staff’s experience and qualifications to use the funds you are seeking.
2. Arrange a meeting with a donor to assess their interest.
- Meetings can help you determine the donor’s level of interest in what your station is doing and what you want to pitch to them.
- Do some background research on the donor so you know their track record in funding, the subject areas or geographic regions they focus on, the kind of projects they fund, and anything else you can find out about their priorities.
- Prepare questions you want to ask and provide basic information about your station, your programming, your audience, and your station’s track record in managing revenues of all kinds.
- Be prepared to impress the donor with a true story of your success and impact on your audience. Include one or two photos, one or two recent reports prepared by station staff, and a fact sheet on your station’s programs for rural audiences.
3. Understand what is required by the donor.
- Convene an in-house discussion among key station staff to ensure that you are certain what the donor wants and needs.
- Be sure that the objectives, activities, and outcomes you propose are practical, achievable, and aligned with your station's capacities, past achievements, training, and the knowledge and abilities of key station staff.
- Propose practical and achievable goals and activities. As part of the proposal, include a timeline or schedule, a budget, and detail the steps in the planning process and the implementation process. Include anticipated travel, how listeners will be involved, and what you will report on to the donor.
- Include profiles of advertisers/sponsors and indicate the role of sponsors in the programs while also indicating when these sponsorships typically occur in the seasonal/agricultural calendar. You can also include information on how the donor’s funding would complement the stations’ advertising revenue and why this is so important. For example, advertising money may not be sufficient to keep up with the audience research and assessments of program quality that is a critical part of your development radio programming.
4. Decide what to “pitch” to the donor
Whether you want to create a gender equality desk at the station—in other words, build the capacity of a team or person at the station with the capacity to promote gender equality, or to buy new equipment, train staff, or do something else, you will need to:
- Provide background on why donor support will meet an important need that has been expressed by your audience, broadcasting staff, or station managers.
- Outline the specific steps you want to take or the innovation you want to introduce. Follow the donor’s application forms if these are provided. If there is no application form, prepare a short document (perhaps two pages) that provides the information outlined in the next bullet.
- When preparing a written request to the donor, include the following basic information:
- What do you want to do? What is your objective?
- Why do you want to do it—what will it mean to your audience? What will it mean for the station?
- Who will be responsible for implementing key tasks? Who else will be involved?
- When will you do it? When do you want to start it and complete it?
- How will you do it? What are the key steps?
- How much will it cost (the budget) and will the request to the donor cover all costs?
- How will you know if you have done it well?
- What do you want to learn from doing it?
- How will the initiative result in meaningful change among your listeners? What does success look like?
- When describing your station's previous achievements, experience, capacity, and training, make sure they are directly related to the specific work you are proposing to do.
5. Show that the station and its staff have the knowledge and capacity to do what you propose to do.
- Provide evidence that you can use donor funds well, and that you can implement projected activities according to a plan provided in your proposal.
- Describe how relevant past achievements have helped improve programming quality, or the station’s outreach, to achieve greater impact. Aim to impress the prospective donor without overselling these achievements.”
- Provide evidence that the station has a good decision-making and management system and will be accountable for achieving the planned objectives and spending the donated funds wisely. Include a financial statement for the station, if required.
- Provide evidence that the station’s staff have the knowledge and skill needed to carry out any research, interviews, packaging of radio segments, etc., that are part of your proposal. Accurately reflect what the stations’ staff can realistically do with the money you are seeking.
- Provide details of previous training relevant to the proposal to show that staff have the training to implement the proposed work. Include training provided by FRI, for example on gender equality and the VOICES standards. Indicate the specific type of training, the names and positions of the persons trained, and examples of what trained staff members have accomplished following their training.
- Provide evidence of recent or previous staff work that reflects the quality of radio programming to be expected in the future as a result of the donor’s support—quality that will be sustained, thereby providing evidence that the donor is making a good investment.
Provide examples of how similar initiatives in the past have helped change rural people’s knowledge, attitudes, and practices.
6. Make a compelling case for investment.
- Regardless of the format of your proposal, include relevant and up-to-date data on the station itself. Note that not all proposals will require information about each of the following:
- a brief history of the station, showing key points of change or growth and key achievements
- physical location and reach
- facilities in the office/broadcast centre and details of the broadcast tower
- technical capacity, including key equipment used in broadcasts
- physical operations, for example, use of grid electricity vs. solar and information on backup plans for power blackouts
- current audience: data on listenership and geographical coverage, including a map of the coverage area
- main themes broadcast, for example, agriculture, education, health, politics, gender equality
- partnerships within the community, country, and more widely
- current management structure with names, titles, and responsibilities of senior staff and information on upcoming/planned changes
- current staffing with titles, roles, areas of non-management responsibility, and information on upcoming/planned changes
- staff experience, education, and relevant work history for the key staff person or people who will be involved
- current operational policies
7. Include information on other aspects of the station’s sustainability.
This might include:
- The station’s management strength and stability.
- The station’s record of improving its organizational management.
- The station’s record of improving its financial sustainability, including its various revenue streams, for example, from sponsorships and advertising.
- The station’s record of broadcaster training.
- The station’s policies and practices regarding anti-corruption, internal reporting, financial transparency, hiring practices, gender equality and inclusion, etc.
- Activities being undertaken or planned within the next year to strengthen sustainability.
- The names of the persons responsible for the proposed initiative, and their positions at the station.
Contributed by: John van Mossel, climate change adaptation consultant and former member and past chair of Farm Radio International's Board of Directors. With special thanks for their very helpful contributions to Lynn Nakabugo, Stakeholder Engagement Manager for FRI Uganda, and Betty Mujungu, peace journalist and feminist, show host, and Creatives and Outreach Team leader at Voice of Toro in Fort Portal, Uganda.
Farm Radio International, 2018. How to generate revenue to support a regular farmer program. https://training.farmradio.fm/how-to-generate-revenue-to-support-a-regular-farmer-program/
Global Forum for Media Development (retrieved 15/08/2023): MediaDev Fundraising Guide. https://fundraising-guide.gfmd.info/
This comprehensive guide is for organizations that are applying for funding for media development and journalism support, both for organizations that are making their first applications and as a refresher for more experienced fundraisers. It contains 11 modules that focus on different aspects of how to apply for funding to support media development and journalism programs, and is designed to be read sequentially, with each module building on the previous ones.
The guide contains number of sub-sections as well as the main modules, which include:
This resource was produced through the “HÉRÈ – Women’s Well-Being in Mali” initiative, which aims to improve the sexual and reproductive health well-being of women and girls and to strengthen the prevention of and response to gender-based violence in Sikasso, Ségou, Mopti, and the district of Bamako in Mali. The project is implemented by the HÉRÈ – MSI Mali Consortium, in partnership with Farm Radio International (RRI) and Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) with funding from Global Affairs Canada.